Berenice Abbott - Photographs New York Monday, April 9, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jean Efron Art Consultants, Washington, D.C.

  • Literature

    Finley, Berenice Abbott, n.p.
    O'Neal, Berenice Abbott: American Photographer, p. 141
    Yochelson, Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, Middle West Side, pl. 34

  • Catalogue Essay

    Once a regular feature on the streetscape of Manhattan, Horn & Hardart’s Automats offered freshly-made food via a simple mechanized process. Food items were displayed behind glass and purchased by inserting coins into the adjacent slots, as the figure in Berenice Abbott’s photograph is seen doing. While Horn & Hardart’s flagship Automat was in Times Square, Abbott chose instead to photograph the location at Columbus Circle, according to Abbott authority Bonnie Yochelson, which was a gathering place for musicians and cabaret-goers (Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, p. 376). With their reasonably-priced fare, Automats became increasingly popular in the Depression and spread throughout the city. Yochelson notes that New York City’s last Automat closed in 1991.

    While this photograph has become one of Abbott’s best-known images, early prints, such as the one offered here, appear on the market infrequently. It is believed that only two other early prints of Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue have appeared at auction since 2002.

Photographs from the Collection of Jeffrey M. Kaplan, Washington, D.C.


Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue

Gelatin silver print.
7 1/4 x 9 3/8 in. (18.4 x 23.8 cm)
Signed in pencil, '50 Commerce Street' credit stamp, printed studio label and notations in unidentified hands in pencil on the verso.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $40,000

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New York Auction 9 April 2018